Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

April 11, 2017

What Is a HUD Foreclosure?

By David Reiss

Mike Licht quoted me in What Is a HUD Foreclosure? A Home That’s Below Market Value. It reads,

“Foreclosure” is a scary word with a simple definition: It’s the process of a lender attempting to recoup the balance owed on a loan after the homeowner fails to pay the mortgage. Mortgage lenders can be banks, private institutions, or the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA is the world’s largest insurer of mortgages; FHA loans are managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. So any foreclosed house that was purchased with an FHA loan is called a HUD foreclosure. But what exactly is a HUD foreclosure?

What is HUD?

HUD is a federal agency with the mission to help low-income and first-time home buyers. Through mortgage assistance and subsidized housing, it helps make the dream of owning a home a reality for many Americans.

A major division of HUD is the FHA, which is the world’s largest insurer of mortgages.

“A HUD foreclosure is the foreclosure of a loan that was insured by the FHA,” says David Reiss, professor of law and research director at the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship
 at Brooklyn Law School

When a homeowner defaults on this government-backed loan, HUD pays off the mortgage and becomes the property’s de facto owner. To recoup financial losses, HUD then puts the house on the market.

The benefit of buying a HUD foreclosure

The upside for bargain home hunters is that HUD-owned properties are usually sold well below market value.

While anyone can buy a HUD home, “the agency has a special program for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel called the Good Neighbor Next Door program,” says Reiss.

This program allows people in those professions to purchase a HUD property at a whooping 50% discount if it’s in a “revitalization area” and the owner occupies it for three years. Revitalization areas are neighborhoods with very low income, low homeownership, or a high concentration of foreclosed homes.

How to buy a HUD foreclosure

HUD foreclosures are not sold in the typical manner, according to Reiss. Instead of open houses and offer letters, he explains, HUD foreclosures are sold through a bidding process that favors owner-occupants (people who actually want to live in the house) over investors by giving them priority in bidding.

Prospective owners working with a real estate agent authorized to sell HUD property submit bids but have no idea what the other bids are. If the property fails to sell to an owner-occupant, the HUD foreclosure is then open to investors.

How to find a HUD foreclosure

According to Reiss, HUD maintains the HUD Home Store, an online database that lists all its foreclosures. And unlike some foreclosed properties that may have liens (a notice attached to your property that means you owe a creditor money), HUD homes are for sale lien-free.

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